Dr. Cheryl Downing King ‘70

Outstanding Alumni

Dr. Cheryl Downing King ‘70

IMG_2664Dr. Cheryl D. King served as the thirty-second president of Kentucky Wesleyan College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Kentucky Wesleyan College in 1970, her Master of Arts in Education and Psychology from Western Kentucky University in 1976 and her Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership from Vanderbilt University in 1986.

King began her career as a music teacher at Foust Junior High School in Owensboro. She has been involved in education at all levels her entire professional career, including preschool, middle school and postsecondary and adult education. 

She was appointed Commissioner of Kentucky Adult Education in 1996 and then served as Deputy Secretary for the Kentucky Cabinet for Workforce Development.  She helped write the adult education legislation, The Adult Education Act of 2000.  This legislation, a national model, placed Kentucky Adult Education within the Council on Postsecondary Education. It resulted in more than doubling enrollment in adult education across the state with a significant increase in the state appropriation, and  provided leadership for 124,000 students enrolled in programs in all 120 Kentucky counties. 

She was Study Director of the National Commission on Adult Literacy from 2006 – 2008. The independent, blue ribbon panel comprised of national leaders and experts representing business, education and government, issued a national report, “Reach Higher, America; Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce,” in Washington, D.C. in June 2008.

Dr. King began her presidency at Kentucky Wesleyan College on July 1, 2008 in the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the great depression.  Her tenure as President is noted for its laser-focus on long term sustainability of the College through a highly detailed Strategic Plan, that asked tough questions.  Dr. King and Fred were popular among the students  and were frequent attendees of student activities and enjoyed hosting students at the President’s Home.  She previously served on the college’s Board of Trustees for many years and was the Executive Vice President of External Relations at the college in 2006.

King served on the Board of Trustees of the Global Board of Higher Education Ministries of the United Methodist Church, the Owensboro Economic Development Board, and the Owensboro-Daviess County Community Foundation, in addition to currently serving as Chair of the Higher Education committee of the Kentucky Conference United Methodist Church.  Dr. King presently is the Senior Policy Advisor for The Council of Postsecondary Education in Kentucky supervising and managing the launch of the Commonwealth College, a new online-only college that goes live in 2015.

She and her husband, Fred, have four children and six grandchildren. Fred is also a 1970 graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College.